Friday, July 4, 2014

Building Some Coal Cars | 6 Comments - Click Here :

Lou takes a break next to the ‘B’ end of a new Phase III Coal Car.

    Keith Hayes - I have been collecting models for so long, it can be hard to take a break from working on the layout to build one. It occurred to me lately that it has been a while since I cracked open a kit. Next up on my list are three C&S Phase III Coal Cars manufactured by Overland. I had not built this kit before, and found them finely designed and easy to construct. If you want some, I saw a bunch of green boxes at the Sn3 meet in Dallas: some kits are out there looking for a good home.

Mike surveys the three new steel under-frames.

    I like to build kits in threes, as it systematizes the dull tasks and gives the chance for the glue to set on one kit while I tackle another.  While you should always read the directions, I tend to deviate and build kits to get the fuss out of the way and reserve the delicate details for last. These kits got built over a week of spare time.
    First, I built all the trucks. Easy enough and nothing special. I used a paint pen to color the wheels either rail brown or rust, and applied rust to the axles. Next up was the under-frame. I primed the steel weights with a tan color from a rattle can: I like a Camo tan by Rustoleum. The steel center frame, wood beams, weight and floor make a nice sandwich. Don’t forget to install the brake line!
    Phase III equipment is distinguished by the Bettendorf steel under-frame and steel trucks—truly modern cars for the narrow gauge. These cars look kind of naked without queen posts and truss rods. All the coals gathered for Leadville operations after abandonment of the mainline east of Climax were Phase III cars. These were among the last new equipment ordered for the narrow gauge in 1910. For reasons unknown, the C&S only ordered 49 (why not 50?) Among the interesting tidbits I uncovered (from Brother d) is the fact that there were more Phase I coals than Phase II and III combined: someone needs to bring out a Phase I kit, as these cars had much deeper side sills and of course different draft gear than the Phase IIs.

The car is all built up, and I am reaming out the holes one last time before installing the hand-bent grab-irons. I made the mistake to consult some photos after I built the cars—the lowest right grabiron should be a stirrup step. Oh, well.
    My least favorite task is drilling holes for grab irons with a #80 drill bit. Many kits (and broken drill bits) have taught me to drill out the holes when the sides are flat. I also got a spiffy spin drill pin vise at a trade show. Easy does it, and make sure the drill is centered in the pin vise. I managed to drill out all the holes for these three kits without breaking a bit: now I jinxed myself for the next time! The sides and ends build up quick, and bending the 50+ grab irons went quickly! I also distressed the top boards of these cars, as material (mostly coal) was hand shoveled out of the car. When I paint the cars, I will be sure to highlight this area with a wood color.

The car under-frame, including the nifty one-piece brake shot, the brass crossover pipe and rubber air hoses. I also added the air tank drain lever.
    Overland introduced the one-piece brake shot, and this has to be one of the best features of a fine kit. To make it better, I added several P-B-L innovations: the brass crossover pipe; real rubber air hoses, and pre-formed cut levers. Actually, this kit has some spiffy Delrin cut levers, and when I figured out how they worked, I used them instead.

The Leadville Agent and a Conductor admire a newly-built car. Note the distressed top board, which has been hit by a few errant shovels.
    Anyone out there got a good technique for installing the retainer valve? I think I lost two in applying the three. No wonder P-B-L has started casting these darn things onto the ends of new kits. These went off to the paint shop right away. First a primer coat of the Camo tan, then successive coats of black, grey, buff and red. But more on that later....

Two cars just back from the paint shop.
Keith Hayes
Leadville in Sn3
6 Comments - Click Here :
  1. Great job, Keith. I'm gonna have to get me one of those spiral drills as I hate grab irons too. So much so that I model Pre ICC laws of 1911 that required tripling the number of rungs on a car (in some cases).

    I have been working on 3 SUF cars myself and they are almost ready to paint. For the same reasons – but also because that is all I plan to have on my layout. So…Yikes! Great minds think alike, huh? So how did wE get involved? Lol. I think it would be fun to post my cars at some near future date so we can compare the differences.

    The SUF cars - all of them (Box, Coals, Reefers, and Stocks) were indeed an anomaly. When one thinks about the outdated warped-to-fit motive power and then these "modern cars" it doesn't seem to make sense. Especially when we compare the C&S to the Rio Grunge (Stop it!) who did quite the opposite - modern motive power pulling warp-to-fit rolling stock. (Warp-to-fit meaning "modify, modernize and bailing wire" to make do!). That is until you stop comparing to a non-connected RR that had little to do with the C&S and start looking at the C&S as a STANDARD GAUGE company under CB&Q control - both of whom aspired to be the next Pennsy RR. (Narrow gauge was an incongruence and both entities had designs to get rid of it!). Since they had to continue working the narrow gauge (thank you anti Laze Faire Federal Government!) the most economical procedure was modernize the freight cars in hopes of not loosing too much money with lost revenue due to inadequate cars! In other words it was the cheap way out of a “bad” situation.

    Well anyway that is my take on it.

    AFE 604 (A-pproval F-or E-xpenbditures, iirc) ordered 50 - That is FIFTY - five zero - "narrow gauge steel underframe coal cars at $700.00 each" on Feb 9, 1910. They were delivered in August and Sept. that year. If you don't forget to include the first and last number you will find that the count is exactly 50 cars.

    Another minor correction that I was soundly frapped about was the incorrect term "cut lever". Don't let Rick Steele hear you call it that. Modelers - including myself - have a bad habit of making up names for things that real railroaders just roll their eyes about - unless they are my good friend Rick (retired engineer and conductor (iirc) for the Union Pacific). Then he will thump you for it! Thank you Rick...

    These are Coupler Lift Bars. Everybody repeat - coupler... lift... bars...

    There will be a quiz in the morning!

    Thanks Keith. Hope your models inspire more models and hope others will share their efforts.


  2. Yessir.

    Coupler. Lift Bars.

    I am SO relieved to know the C&S ordered groups of 50. Now why did they number the cars starting with such odd numbers?

    Years ago Sloan remarked that the Grande used modern locos with older cars (actually, not that much older) while the C&S made do with old locos and newer cars. Studying the roster, there really were not that many steel underframe cars after all. I also find it interesting that the C&S had about as many coals as boxcars.

    Keith Hayes
    Leadville in Sn3

    1. They didn't start with odd numbers. The first modern coal car built for the C&S was number 4000. Fifty 3 board coal cars were originally ordered by the UPD&G in 1897 numbers 3930 -3979. The UPD&G received a second set in Sept. 1898 numbered 3980 thru 4029. That is an even 100 cars. In Dec. 1898 the C&S received the first of the 4 board cars from St. Charles and the first car was 4000. This was THE starting number for C&S Coal cars. Hardly an odd number. Then in Jan. 1899 they took posession of 86 of the original UPD&G 3 board cars. Where did 14 cars go? Who knows - perhaps in the middle of the second build the RR contacted the Car builder and had them change the specs so that only 36 cars of the second set made it to the RR as UPD&G cars. The reamaining 14 were made 4 board and became the first 14 of the C&S set??? ANYway, now we have an oddity introduced into the coal car series and since the C&S did not distinguish car builds by serial numbers this hitch in the numbering continued right down to the last modern SUF coal no.4547 in 1910. (There were other little hitches in the numbers too - you'll have to find those yourself.)

      I had Bob Grandt include all those charts in the back of Pictorial VIII so y'all could do a little investigating on your own. This stuff is pretty obvious once you pick up on it and I had hoped the charts would make that easy...

      No there were not that many SUF cars. You will recall that at the end of 1910 the RR succeeded in cutting the NG system down to roughly 1/3 of its previous size. They closed Trout Creek, swapped the Gunnison for Blue River (and all but abandoned that) and shut down Boreas with every intent of being done with all of it! Oh, no it wasn't just happen stance...! They had to be forced to reopen Boreas after 3 years of resisting. They knew what they were doing so why would they invest in a lot in new cars?


  3. OK, dumb question to follow, was the SUF the same for box, coal and reefers? In some drawing I've seen the SUF seemed to vary between the three types of cars. TIA.

    Lee Gustafson

    1. That ain't a dumb question. This is a bit of a subtle detail you either have to build models, study drawings, or study photos rather closely to pick up on. The Reefer underframes were a little different than the following cars in that they used a heavier end sill and apparently some minor differences in draft gear. They were the first SUF cars by some 6 months. From what I can tell both builds of the box cars as well as the SUF Stock cars were pretty much alike. The Coal cars had the most notably different SUFs because of the stake pockets on the ends of the cross members of the frames. By no means to I pretend to know the extents of the differences and someone who knows more is encouraged to speak up.

  4. A cursory examination of Railroad drawings of the SUF cars indicate that overall the Bettendorf hardware was the same. The spacing of the cross arms of the Reefers was the same as the spacing of rhe cross arms of the SUF on the coal cars. This was the first and last (more or less) set of cars built so it seems unlikely the frames for the boxcar sets and the stock car set were any different. The differences would have been in details with the best examples being the Striker Plates on the Reefers as opposed to those on the rest of the cars and the stake poket fittings on the ends of the cross arms of the coal cars. The spacing between the side stakes of the SUF coals was roughly 4'4" and for the wooden frame cars variable. This means the SUF car design was made to fit the SUF hardware.